There are growing opportunities for third-level students to obtain a scholarship to help fund their studies.
Scholarships are awarded for outstanding talent, usually sporting or academic, but, as in the case of UCD for instance, they may also recognise excellence in the performing arts.
Colleges offer them as a way of attracting high-performers of all types and the funding and other supports made available allow the students to pursue their particular talent to the highest possible level, while also working towards a qualification.
Prospective students with a sporting talent would do well to check out the range of sports scholarships on offer at their college, or colleges, of choice, and may find some more appealing than others.
Beyond any cash award, sports scholarships have a much greater value in areas such as coaching, psychology, nutrition advice and medical and physiotherapy services.
Students also receive support on the academic side to ensure they hit the right balance between study and sport and that neither suffers because of the other.
Scholarships are for people with proven potential in a team or individual sport, competing, perhaps, at senior club, county, provincial, national or international level.
Arrangements vary between colleges, both in terms of eligibility and the nature of the scholarship, which is why it is worth finding out what's available and what are the requirements.
While it depends on the college and a student's particular talent, the list of sports recognised is growing every year and has moved well beyond traditional fields such as athletics, rugby, GAA and swimming
The breadth of skills that have, or are being, recognised for scholarships also include surfing, kick-boxing, snooker, golf, rowing, equestrian, tae kwon do, hockey and cricket.
The rise and rise of the sports scholarship has gone hand in hand with the development of elite training facilities in the Irish third-level sector, with many colleges offering unrivalled facilities that are a magnet not only for students, but for top-notch teams and sportspeople from outside.
Colleges also reward academic excellence based on performance in the Leaving Certificate, and in some cases they may recognise high-achieving females entering non-traditional areas, such as engineering,
As an example, the University of Limerick recently awarded 50 first year students €2,000 entrance scholarships while five Women in Engineering Awards valued at €500 were presented to top scoring female applicants to programmes in the Faculty of Science and Engineering.